University community mourns death of philanthropist Lewis Katz

Lewis Katz, a member of the Dickinson School of Law Class of 1966 and a generous Penn State philanthropist, died Saturday (May 31) in a plane crash in Massachusetts. The Law School’s buildings in University Park and Carlisle bear his name.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lewis Katz,” said Jim Houck, interim dean of the Law School. “Countless lives have been improved thanks to his good work. We are proud of not only all that he has accomplished in his life but of the spirit of generosity and caring that he shared with so many organizations.”   

Katz was one of seven passengers on a private plane that went down in woods near Bedford, Mass.

In 2007, Katz made an unprecedented $15 million gift to The Dickinson School of Law, one of the single largest acts of philanthropy in Penn State's history.

Katz was an owner of the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils and served as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Basketball Association. He was a shareholder in the New York Yankees and a former owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey team. In each of those enterprises, he pledged a share of team profits to benefit inner-city youth. At the time of his death, he was co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Katz was a founder of Katz, Ettin and Levine, the law firm he founded in Cherry Hill, N.J. He is the former owner of Kinney Parking Systems, the largest parking company in New York City, and the former chairman of Interstate Outdoor Advertising, one of the largest regional outdoor-advertising firms in the country. He served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center.

Katz supported a number of charitable and philanthropic causes and was director of the Katz Foundation.

A native of Camden, N.J., Katz established several programs to help the children of Camden, one of the nation's poorest cities. He helped build two Boys and Girls Clubs that serve nearly 3,000 young people each year. Katz also helped build Jewish Community Centers in New Jersey.

Katz served on the Board of Trustees of Temple University, his alma mater. He was a member of the former Board of Trustees and current Board of Counselors of The Dickinson School of Law, where he graduated first in his class.

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Last Updated June 01, 2014